Today is World Tourism Day, with the 2019 theme, “Tourism and Jobs: a Better Future for All.” It highlights the vital importance the sector has played, continues to play and will play in the future in creating new and improved jobs for millions of people around the world.
It is fitting, given this year’s theme, that Royal Caribbean’s efforts to increase sustainable tour destinations not only promotes such travel options, but also supports jobs and livelihoods at RCL destinations.
They knew going in that it was a very aggressive goal for a complicated undertaking – elevating RCL’s tour operators to standing as certified sustainability tour providers so at least 1,000 such tours could be offered by the last day of 2020.
Instead, that goal was surpassed, beating the target date by a full year and a half, when RCL’s Global Tour Operations (GTO) logged its 1,027th certification.
Now, more than two months after it soundly beat its original goal for logging new sustainable tours, RCL has again shattered that target with nearly 1,400 sustainable tours available globally for booking through Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara.
The effort began in 2016 with RCL environmental partner, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and its goal to see tour operators brought up to standards set by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), recognized by the United Nations Foundation as the international accreditation body for sustainable tourism.
“The scale and scope of Royal Caribbean Cruises’ commitment to sustainable shore excursions and accomplishments to date are unprecedented,” says Jim Sano, WWF vice president for conservation travel. “This initiative not only helps advance WWF’s conservation mission, it elevates the sustainability bar for the entire travel industry.”
Working with Travelife, a GSTC certifier, RCL was able to provide its tour operators more concierge support and assistance “and allow every tour operator working with RCL to become ‘Travelife Engaged’ at no charge,” says Roberta Jacoby, GTO managing director.
“This educates and motivates the tour operators to understand what the GSTC certification is all about and holds their hand throughout the lengthy and detailed process.”
Sustainability applies to every aspect of a certified tour company, more than simply using electric-powered vehicles, for instance. Among them is ensuring it provides healthy and safe working conditions, without child labor, in keeping with human rights.
GSTC CEO Randy Durband also commends RCL’s achievement, saying, “Royal Caribbean’s efforts to boost the global supply of certified sustainable shore excursions is a watershed moment for the cruise industry.”
When RCL announced its partnership with WWF, they set ambitious sustainability targets in three key areas: emissions reduction, sustainable food supply and destination stewardship.
Now that GTO has smashed its original target for certifying sustainable tour operators, Jacoby says, “We are already talking about our next goal.”